Latino USA

Archive for July 6th, 2012

If You Have the Opportunity and Means to Become a U.S. Citizen, Take It

On July 4, President Obama delivered remarks at a naturalization ceremony for active duty service members, immigrants from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The President was right in saying that these ceremonies – held from Monticello in Virginia to the Seattle Center in Washington – are “a perfect way to celebrate America’s birthday.”

“With this ceremony today — and ceremonies like it across our country — we affirm another truth:  Our American journey, our success, would simply not be possible without the generations of immigrants who have come to our shores from every corner of the globe,” Mr. Obama said. “We say it so often, we sometimes forget what it means — we are a nation of immigrants.  Unless you are one of the first Americans, a Native American, we are all descended from folks who came from someplace else — whether they arrived on the Mayflower or on a slave ship, whether they came through Ellis Island or crossed the Rio Grande.”

The Office of Immigration Statistics reports that last year 694,193 individuals became citizens. While that might seem like an impressive number, 8.1 million legal permanent residents were eligible to naturalize in 2010. Why didn’t more immigrants naturalize? Why do so many choose not to become U.S. citizens?

For one thing, the $680.00 total cost for fees is prohibitive and the entire process intimidating. Some experts also cite limited English skills, lower education levels and lower income levels as barriers to naturalization.

But there are others who face no such barriers and have opted not to naturalize, dodging any responsibilities to a country they are reaping from. I personally know of a few who simply could not be bothered. These are folks who have been here for many years, with no intent of returning to their homelands any time soon.

On the flip side of the coin, there are millions of immigrants who want nothing more than to become full-fledged members of our society, particularly the undocumented youth and other unauthorized immigrants who consider America their home but are not eligible thanks to our broken immigration system.

The act of naturalization not only confers the rights and benefits of citizenship, it is also a ceremony in which immigrants commit to the responsibilities that come with the privilege of being an American. Choosing to become a U.S. citizen brings obligations such as voting, paying taxes, and when necessary, fighting for our country. The President saluted the new Americans for being “willing to work hard, play by the rules, and meet their responsibilities,” just like generations of immigrants before them.

If you have the opportunity and means to become a U.S. citizen, take it. It’s your responsibility as an individual to join generations of other immigrants who have committed to their adopted homeland and made it great.

You can follow Erwin de Leon on Twitter or read his blog.

Fi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation and the Sirus Fund. Photo courtesy of Flickr

Erwin de Leon is a Policy Researcher and writer based in Washington, DC. He writes on immigration, LGBT, and nonprofit issues. You can follow him on Twitter at @ErwindeLeon.

Revisiting Damian Lopez Alfonso, Cuban Cyclist

Cycling is not only Damian Lopez Alfonso’s life but also his passion. Despite being injured as a child in Cuba, Damian has ridden his way to the top, recently qualifying for the 2012 Paralympics in London. We revisit his story this week.


Click here to download this week’s show. Image courtesy of Fuji Bikes.

StoryCorps Historias’ Teachable Moments

As the school year ends, we hear two stories about teachers from StoryCorps Historias, one from a student who dropped out in Los Angeles and one from a student in Chicago who started his first business as a teenager in an unusual way.


Click here to download this week’s show.

 

 

Roger Alvarez (l) and his former teacher, Antero Garcia (r) in Los Angeles.

 

 

Noe Rueda (r) and his former teacher, Alex Fernandez (l) in Madison, WI. Noe grew up in Chicago.

 

 

All audio and photos courtesy of StoryCorps. Noe’s story was produced by Michael Garofalo. Roger’s story was produced by Brian Reed.

Relief from the Heat: The Snowy Slopes of Colorado

Reporter Whitney Eulich follows 13-year old Emily Garcia on the ski slopes of Snowmass, Colorado. Emily has autism as well as frequent epileptic seizures. She’s gained independence and self-confidence through learning to ski.

 

RadioNature is a year-long series that looks at how people of color connect with nature. Funding comes from the REI Foundation.


Click here to download this week’s show.

Whitney Eulich is a radio and print journalist based in Boston. Her work focuses on human rights, conflict resolution and Latin America. In 2011, Whitney received a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University.

 

 

 

 

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Noticiando: What’s Up With Chagas?

Most people who have died from chagas disease don’t even know that they have it. It’s a disease caused by a parasite that’s found in the feces of an insect known as the “kissing bug.” According to the CDC, the number of people who have chagas is comparable to the number of people in the US who live with multiple sclerosis. Dr. Sheba Meymandi, the director of the Centre of Excellence for Chagas Disease at Olive View/UCLA medical center, talks to Maria Hinojosa about chagas disease.


Click here to download this week’s show.

Dr. Sheba Meymandi graduated from George Washington University and is currently a director for the Centre of Excellence for Chagas Disease at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, Sylmar, California. Under the direction of Drs. Meymandi and Traina, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center has the only Center of Excellence for Chagas Disease designated in the U.S. The Center of Excellence for Chagas Disease partners with Faith Community Nurses in the San Fernando Valley and provide free screening for Chagas disease at multiple locations in the San Fernando Valley area

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